Prime Minister Hun Sen turned his attention to an embankment construction project during the inauguration of a new water treatment facility in Kampot province on Tuesday.
He said he had previously instructed the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts and the Ministry of Environment to build a barrier to prevent sea water from contaminating fresh water sources. However, he said, the ministries bucked responsibility for the project back and forth.
“I don’t care whose job it is. I need someone to build an embankment. If it is not built, Kampot will have to drink salt water,” Hun Sen said.
The coastal province is experiencing a boom thanks in part to the expansion of National Road 3 and the construction of a new Chinese-funded seaport – fuelling a thirst for clean water.
Demand for fresh water in the Teuk Chhuo district and Kampot town was strained due to an ageing infrastructure which could only produce around 6,000 cubic metres a day.
As a result, only around 47 per cent of citizens could access clean water prior to construction of the new water treatment facility.
“Kampot’s new clean water supply system was made possible by a grant from the Japanese government. It will strongly contribute to the population’s wellbeing, in terms of socio-economic development and especially by attracting more investment projects into this coastal city,” said Hun Sen.
The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) contributed $26 million for the construction of the water treatment plant in an effort to support the government target of providing 100 per cent of the people with clean water by 2025.
The plant will connect 13,000 additional families to the province’s potable water network and produce 7,500 cubic metres of water a day – matching demand for clean water in the area.
Ty Kean, Kampot Water Works (KWW) director, told The Post that workers had laid 88.9km of new pipes, while also replacing over 12km of worn-out concrete pipes with polyethylene and ductile iron pipes.
“We used a special cement pipe for 50 years which caused problems because there was leakage and the water was not as clean,” Kean said.
He said KWW had provided 900 financially vulnerable families with free connections to the province’s water network, which would normally cost them 420,000 riel ($104).
Prior to being connected to the facilities, villagers often relied on rainwater or water distribution services, Kean said.
Sok Chea, 54, a resident of Changhon village in Teuk Chhou district’s Prek Tnort commune, said he had experienced water shortages and issues with water distribution before the construction of the new treatment plant.
“I am very excited because I have access to an adequate supply of clean and hygienic water,” Sok told The Post on Tuesday.